We have just celebrated 48 years of Independence from British colonial rule. While many are celebrating our failed achievements, I was greeted with a long blackout on Independence Day while I was watching television. After 48 years of Independence we are still faced with blackouts daily, dirty water that’s unfit for human consumption, poor drainage and irrigation, corruption, a high crime rate, massive migration, unemployment, and extreme poverty. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
As a nation we must face the facts. We must ask ourselves what have we achieved as a nation when we compare ourselves to our Caribbean neighbours. When I look at Georgetown I see garbage everywhere. As I was walking near the Guyana Post Office building a few days ago, I saw over ten persons sleeping on cardboard boxes around the corners of the building. Lots of foreigners traverse this location daily; these beggars are an eyesore to this capital city and all over Guyana.
I now ask: What is the purpose of the Human Services Ministry? We have just passed a $220B budget; this amount of money could eradicate poverty from this nation, but we have a very serious problem when it comes to administration.
I ask the Minister of Finance this question: Does he have a plan for street beggars in Guyana? Children beg on the streets and many kids sell DVDs on the streets, most of whom are illiterates. Does the government have a place to put these beggars to give them a better future? While our ministers in government live in mansions and their wives and kids receive the best medical treatment abroad and they can spend millions on holidays overseas, our nation suffers in poverty and human degradation.
The PNC and our present administration failed to push this nation forward economically, socially, morally, spiritually, and academically. We need to have a greater vision to push our nation further into this contemporary era; we are behind civilization in modern technology. We have a failed internet system supplied by only one phone company that’s very expensive, while Digicel cannot have that space to provide landline phones and a cheaper internet service. It means if GT&T should fail then our entire phone system will be disrupted; we have the incompetent GPL that’s an eyesore in Guyana. We have to pay enormous electricity bills that can obliterate our salaries; yet we keep GPL that’s exploiting our poor citizens daily.
In a nation with less than a million residents we could use solar power in every home and get rid of GPL but we need guts and greater vision for a change in Guyana.
Unemployment has become another problem in this country where we have many UG graduates yearly and young people passing CXC yet they are unemployed so they create their own jobs by selling in the streets and markets, while some even go on to do illegal business. We see more sellers than buyers in Guyana on a daily basis, why? Because in this country jobs are very difficult to acquire if you don’t have ‘lines’ or are politically connected to the bureaucrats. Our young people are hopeless, so they migrate and work all over the Caribbean and North America. Many thousands of Guyanese are living and working in New York.
I was talking to a young man at the market who sells eggs, chicken, dried fish and a few more items. He told me he earns about $200,000 monthly by just selling at the market; he can hardly read a great deal but he has business experience. Then I talked to many educated university graduates and folks who passed CXC subjects and all are market vendors earning over $200,000 per month. An average government worker takes home about $55,000 monthly and a trained teacher about $90,000, so the average street vendor earns twice or thrice these qualified people. Yet in the recent budget we see no increase in public servants’ salaries than the 5% they earned last year. It seems as if our administrators are mathematically naïve and do not comprehend our economic circumstances, thus pushing our citizens to migrate daily all over the globe in search of jobs and a better standard of living. What have we achieved as a nation after 48 years of poor management?
Crime and domestic violence are on the increase, and there are robberies and killings every day. Our police force is ill equipped to deal with hard core criminals while our army just eats, sleeps and plays dominoes. I ask before and will ask again: What is the purpose of the Guyana Defence Force? They should patrol the entire nation to curb crime to help the police. It’s about time our (acting) Police Commissioner and the Minister of Home Affairs use greater measures to deal with crime and criminals or criminals will one day take over this nation.
I have travelled this entire nation and our drainage system is really deplorable. The trenches are filled with bushes and garbage. The NDC’s don’t dig the trenches thus 30 minutes of rain will flood a whole community. All over we see roads with huge potholes and nothing has been done; if our leaders cannot fix basic potholes and get trenches cleaned then it’s not possible for them to govern this nation. VS Naipaul wrote a book called: An Area of Darkness’ and he says, “Nothing has been produced in the Caribbean.’’ He is absolutely correct; we still import matches from Trinidad so it tells me we cannot produce a box of matches or even a ruler. We need to be honest with ourselves and don’t be politically brainwashed and ignore the facts I have stated here; after 48 years of independence we are a failed state.
What we have produced is rum that has destroyed the moral fabric of our society. We must accept a profound philosophy that the half-educated have risen to power fighting daily in parliament. Dante said:
You were not born to live the lives of brutes
But beauty to pursue and knowledge high
We need divine wisdom and a greater vision to govern this nation.
Rev Gideon Cecil